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JANUARY 15, 2001
2:22 PM
CONTACT:  Friends of the Earth
Mark Helm 202-783-7400 x102 or 202-270-3650 (cell)
Leading Environmentalists Urge Senate to Oppose Abraham
WASHINGTON - January 15 - The following was released today by Friends of the Earth:

January 11, 2001

The Honorable Jeff Bingaman
Chairman, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
703 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Bingaman:

On behalf of the thousands of members of Friends of the Earth, I would like to formally express this organization's opposition to the nomination of former Senator Spencer Abraham as Secretary of the United States Department of Energy (DOE). As a United States Senator for the state of Michigan, Spencer Abraham has a record of defending polluting, resource extractive energy sources over renewable energy.

Growing bodies of evidence demonstrating the impacts of global warming and current energy crises throughout the country emphasize the importance of sound energy conservation strategies. The U.S. is at a crossroads in terms of its national energy policy: will there be a substantial move towards sustainable and renewable energy sources, or will we continue to rely on fossil fuels at the expense of our air, water, and natural resources? In light of his record, Senator Abraham's nomination would be a step in the wrong direction.

Senator Abraham's abysmal record on energy issues includes:

-- Voting to block consideration of an amendment that would have increased spending on the DOE's Solar and Renewable Energy program by $62 million, bringing it within range of the Administration's FY00 budget request (Roll Call Vote No. 171, June 16, 1999). This policy stance is in direct conflict with President-elect Bush's own Comprehensive National Energy Policy, which states that Bush "understands the promise of renewable energy and believes strongly in encouraging alternative fuel sources such as wind, biomass, and solar."

-- Voting against a resolution calling for an end to the freeze on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards (Roll Call Vote No. 275, September 15, 1999). Currently, emissions from U.S. cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) contribute 20 percent of U.S. global warming pollution in the form of carbon dioxide. Improving the vehicle mileage per gallon of cars and SUVs by raising CAFE standards would reduce the amount of fossil fuels burned, saving gas and preventing further pollution.

-- Consistently siding with the oil industry and voting to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil drilling (most recently: Roll Call Vote No. 058, April 6, 2000). ANWR is a 19 million-acre wildlife refuge of unequaled beauty and importance to the arctic and subarctic ecosystems of that region. It is home to hundreds of animal species and million of migratory birds. It serves as a polar bear denning habitat and is the primary calving grounds for the Porcupine caribou herd, long a cultural treasure for the native Gwich'in people of Alaska and Canada. To allow oil drilling in this area when alternative fuel sources exist would be to senselessly destroy one of our nation's priceless natural treasures.

-- Protecting the mining industry from efforts to enact environmental safeguards and bonding requirements for hardrock mines on public lands (most recently: Roll Call Vote No. 224, July 20, 2000). In addition, Senator Abraham voted to legalize unlimited mine waste dumping on public lands by eliminating the "millsite claim" provision from the Mining Law of 1872 (Roll Call Vote No. 223 July 27, 1999).

-- Defending the coal industry by supporting efforts to exempt hardrock mining operations from the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (Roll Call Vote No. 370, November 18, 1999).

-- One of three cosponsors of a bill to abolish the Department of Energy (see: S. 896, the Department of Energy Abolishment Act in the 106th Congress).

Given Senator Abraham's position on renewable energy and his unfettered defense of resource extractive industries, ratifying his nomination as Secretary of United States Department of Energy would be a grave mistake for the direction of our nation's energy policy. Friends of the Earth therefore urges you to oppose his nomination.  


Brent Blackwelder
Friends of the Earth

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